The archivist continues his series of profiles on our past Head Masters, focusing on every former Head Master since the Second World War. We now turn to William Blackshaw, who would prove to be one of the most transformative Head Masters of the period
TAG: William Blackshaw (Headmaster 1971)
The Old Brightonians hosted a memorial service to celebrate the life of Bill Blackshaw (Head Master, 1971-87), on Friday 21st April 2017 in the College Chapel. A plaque was dedicated to the memory of Bill during this service, and was followed by a reception in the Sarah Abraham Recital Hall.
This is the transcript of Simon Smith's address at Bill Blackshaw's Requiem Mass on 21st June 2016.
May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of all our hearts be always acceptable in your sight, O God our strength and our Redeemer.
William Simon Blackshaw. WSB. Bill. William was the Christian name of his grandfather, a clergyman and noted preacher. Simon because he was born on the Feast day of St Si-mon and Jude, 28 October, in 1930. His father Charles was a housemaster at Cranleigh and went on to become headmaster of the Prep school. A family conscious of its fore-bears and a life prescribed from its very beginning by the two influences that were to shape its course - the cycles and rhythms of the Church of England; and by schools.
Bill Blackshaw, who was Headmaster of the college from 1971 to 1987 died peacefully at home in Rottingdean on Friday 27 May. He had a huge impact on the school during his 16 years of headship, increasing numbers markedly, introducing co-education in the Sixth Form and overseeing the greatest building programme of the post-war era.
Former Headmaster William Blackshaw returned to the College on Saturday 28th January 2012, together with family and friends, for the formal opening of the Blackshaw Building, named in his honour. Formerly the classrooms for the Pre-Prep School, which moved over the summer to the old Roedean Junior School, the Blackshaw Building now houses the Maths, PE and EAL departments.
The Sgt. Major Chris O’Connell Memorial took place on a freezing January afternoon, but the warmth of feeling amongst the Old Brightonians who came to celebrate Chris’s life staved off the cold. Two former Headmasters were in attendance, Bill Blackshaw and John Leach, and Brighton College was represented by various staff including Deputy-Head John Weeks, Elizabeth Cody and Common Room President Steve Radojcic.
I arrived at my last annual dinner ‘in charge’ on an extremely cold evening thankful that, at least, we had no snow. After a short panic attack about missing table decorations, which turned up elsewhere in the school, I joined a packed Café de Paris for pre-dinner drinks before we repaired to a slightly chilly Dining Hall for dinner.
The recent great successes enjoyed by the College – surely a source of joy to all of us who love the place – have caused the Press to suggest that it was previously a ‘backwater’. So it seems right to refer to the work done in the last fifty years, that work itself laid on earlier foundations. After all, the decade before then produced Lord Alexander, Lord Skidelsky and Bishop Bavin (to say nothing of Sir John Chilcot) among others! And these last fifty years began with a visit from the Queen. Backwater...?!?
Simon Smith has decided to retire at the end of the academic year after 38 years of outstanding service to the college, for the past eleven as Second Master. He has been a wonderful support to me in my five years as Head Master, providing wise counsel, good humour and kindly reassurance throughout. My predecessors, Bill Blackshaw, John Leach and Anthony Seldon, also owe him a terrific debt of gratitude. He has served each of them with great loyalty. Above all, Simon has served this community. He has made time for colleagues and pupils in equal measure, supporting them when times are tough and admonishing them only when necessary.
On Saturday night (May 15th 2010) I will be taking part in the Moon Walk in memory of my wonderful sister Penny Lloyd, nee Allen (F. 1979-81) who died of breast cancer aged 45 just over a year ago.
The fifth annual Vice Presidents’ lunch saw us return to the Army and Navy Club, and once again we are very grateful to Peter Miller (C. 1945-49 ) for hosting the occasion and allowing us to enjoy the fine catering and premises of the club.
This year’s dinner was a very well attended affair held in a warm and dry Dining Hall while the rain and wind lashed outside.
This notwithstanding the Diners enjoyed a wonderful speech from Old Brightonian Chris Terrill (A. 1965-70); a genuinely warm and heartfelt account of his time at the College whilst acknowledging that things have generally changed for the better for current pupils. It was good to see that he’d brought props, and these included his old boater... which seemed to still fit!
As we set off from Hereford I gave a little sigh and, when questioned by Isobel, admitted that I was wondering why I was setting off on a gloomy November day to drive two hundred miles across England for a dinner. Once we had arrived, however, all doubts were dispelled as we plunged into the happy hubbub of old friends.
Bringing back Commemoration Day to the OB calendar does seem a perfect way to celebrate and acknowledge the 125th Anniversary of the Association, and that the day was graced with terrific weather certainly saved the blushes of those of us who had campaigned so vigorously for this summer replacement to September’s OB Day.
What an evening! If you don't believe me then just take a look the ‘photos on this website, you will see plenty of animated smiling faces which, for me, sums up the purpose of events like this. Mind you with a combination of Ann Widdecombe as guest speaker, over 150 guests and a large contingent of 1981’ers what more could one expect?
This has been a year of innovation for the Association, especially in the way we communicate with our members and the College community. The Association website, which is now updated almost daily, has been totally revamped with the addition of a community notice board, photo gallery, and an expanded OB Hall of Fame. We are registering an average of more than 150 hits a day on the website and many OBs are emerging from the woodwork to provide us with news. Going forwards, we are developing a new membership page, and looking for greater expansion of the Directory of OB Businesses and Services. My thanks go to our web designer, Alex Bremer (R. 1979-83) for all his hard work and constant enthusiasm which goes well beyond the call of duty.
Dear Old Brightonians,
This is proving to be a tremendous year for the Old Brightonians. As reported elsewhere on this website our social events have been proving more popular than ever and reunions are taking place across the generations. It is especially pleasing to see so many young members getting involved, though our sports teams still need players, so please contact John Aiken if you’re interested (talented or not!).
This year we are celebrating the 160th anniversary of Brighton College’s foundation, and both the Headmaster and the Old Brightonian Association are very keen to celebrate this occasion fittingly. Hence there will be a number of events arranged at the school to mark the achievements of Brighton College, events which we hope will enable Old Brightonians of all ages to renew past associations and friendships.
150 not out and still with plenty of gas in the tank would be the best way to present Brighton College Cricket today. We as a school have had an enviable record in cricket since the early 1980’s and it is great to see that this still the case in 2005.
As with all accounts of such gatherings, I must open my report with a pathetically grateful nod to whoever arranged for the promised rain to hold off (which meant that Joey Appleton’s (D.1979-84) hair stayed fabulous all day!).
Prior to a recent show in London, Pablo Picasso’s “Le Train Bleu” curtain was last seen at Brighton College as part of the Brighton Festival of 1982. The 10.3 x 11.7m curtain formed the centrepiece of The Burstow Gallery’s “Picasso and The Theatre” exhibition organised by Gavin Henderson (Le.1960-65) and later overall Director of The Festival) and assisted by my father, Nick Bremer (Director of Art 1969-2000). The show attracted 7,200 visitors to the College – “The publicity is beyond price” Headmaster Bill Blackshaw proudly told the Council.
More than 80 ‘old girls’ celebrated 30 years of co-education at Brighton College at a special dinner on Saturday 29th November 2003. Speakers included Bill Blackshaw, the former Headmaster who introduced girls to the College and Lucinda Harris (F. 1973-75) who was one of the first girls to join the school. Jane Haviland (F. 1979-81), currently President of the Old Brightonians Association and the first lady elected to this post, also spoke.